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Metabolic syndrome is strictly associated with parental obesity beginning from childhood




We aimed to identify potential correlates or risk factors for metabolic syndrome (MetS) in a cohort of schoolchildren. We quantified the prevalence of MetS, analysed the clustering of MetS components and described the distribution of metabolic parameters not included in MetS definition.


Population-based, cross-sectional study.

Patients and measurements

A total of 489 children (6·7–13 years) representing the 92·6% of the whole school population between the 1st year of primary school and the 2nd year of junior high school living in a centre of southern Italy. Weight, height, waist circumference, blood pressure (BP), laboratory parameters (indexes of glucose metabolism, lipid profile and uric acid), anamnestic and parental information, lifestyle and dietary habits were collected. Dietary habits data were available only for 353 children.


MetS prevalence was 9·8%. Of 48 children with MetS, 38 (79·2%) were simultaneously positive for abdominal obesity and elevated BP. In children with MetS, the prevalence of insulin resistance, high insulin, high non-HDL(high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and high uric acid was higher than in children without MetS. In 6·7–10-year-old children, only the presence of parental history of obesity [odds ratio (OR) = 4·3, 95% CI = 1·8–10·2] was higher in those with MetS than in those without. In 10·1–13-year-old children, the presence of parental history of obesity, the habits of no walking/cycling to school, long screen time and no breakfast consumption were higher in children with MetS than in those without, but only parental history of obesity (adjusted OR = 3·8, 95% CI = 1·7–8·4) remained significantly related to MetS in multivariate logistic regression.


Parental obesity was strictly associated with MetS in all children and should be considered in clinical practice. In older children, wrong lifestyle and dietary habits were related to parental obesity.